"Size Matters: Should Getting Bigger Be a Priority For Teams?" by Dustin Nelson for Gone Puck Wild.

We talk about size a lot in hockey. We debate whether or not guys like John Scott (6-foot-8, 270 pounds) can “patrol the ice” and make an impact as a goon. We’re debating the merits of Stu Bickel. We say young players need to bulk up. We say things about teams as a whole like, Los Angeles plays heavy hockey or The Wild need to get bigger.

It’s this last one that got me started. The Wild need to get bigger. If you pay attention to Minnesota Wild hockey, you’ve heard that a lot over the last year or so, particularly about the team’s defense. Hell, you’ve heard it this week from people who believe Bickel belongs in the Wild lineup or when his move to wing on Thursday is discussed.

This bit of folk wisdom — essentially, bigger is better — has been bandied about frequently by Wild fans, yet the Wild were solid defensively with a 2.42 goals against average (GAA), which ranked 8th in the NHL. They did that without a consistent goaltender and with the lightest defenseman in the league — Jared Spurgeon — seemingly proving that size and grit come in a distant second to actual skill.

Read the full article here. 

"Cautionary Tale: How the Winnipeg Jets Ended Up with the NHL’s Worst Goaltending" by Jonathan Willis for Bleacher Report. 

That the Winnipeg Jets have, on paper, the worst goaltending in the NHL is pretty much beyond dispute. Ondrej Pavelec has had three bad years since the franchise relocated to Manitoba; his .915 even-strength save percentage in that span ranks 47th of the 55 goalies to play at least 2,000 minutes over that time frame. His presumptive backup, Michael Hutchinson, split time between the ECHL and AHL in 2013-14 (caveat: He was good in both) and has just three NHL games on his resume.

Hypothetically, Pavelec could rebound to his 2010-11 form, when he posted a .914 save percentage. Alternatively, in the space of a little over a year, Hutchinson could go from not getting a qualifying offer from Boston to the ECHL to the AHL to an NHL starting job. Realistically, though, neither scenario is terribly likely.

How did Winnipeg find itself in this mess?

Read the full article here.

"Player Profile: Trevor Daley" by Mike Heika for the Dallas Morning News. 

Trevor Daley has become one of the most consistent players on the Stars. He’s the most tenured, having been drafted in 2002, and he has 688 regular season games in a Stars uniform over the past 10 seasons.
Last season seemed like more of the same for Daley. He finished second on the team in time on ice at 21:08 per game, tallied 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) and was plus-10. He is versatile enough that he finds a way to fit into pretty much any coaching scheme, and he’s talented enough to have some big moments.

Game 6 of the playoffs was Daley’s biggest moment last season. He had two goals and an assist, logged 27:43 in ice time, including 6:30 on the power play. His two goals were among the nicest of the season (watch them here), and that fed the time on ice and his five shots on goal. Had the Stars not lost that game, it would have been remembered as one of the great individual playoff performances in franchise history.

Read the full article here.

"Player Profile: Trevor Daley" by Mike Heika for the Dallas Morning News. 

Trevor Daley has become one of the most consistent players on the Stars. He’s the most tenured, having been drafted in 2002, and he has 688 regular season games in a Stars uniform over the past 10 seasons.

Last season seemed like more of the same for Daley. He finished second on the team in time on ice at 21:08 per game, tallied 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) and was plus-10. He is versatile enough that he finds a way to fit into pretty much any coaching scheme, and he’s talented enough to have some big moments.

Game 6 of the playoffs was Daley’s biggest moment last season. He had two goals and an assist, logged 27:43 in ice time, including 6:30 on the power play. His two goals were among the nicest of the season (watch them here), and that fed the time on ice and his five shots on goal. Had the Stars not lost that game, it would have been remembered as one of the great individual playoff performances in franchise history.

Read the full article here.

"Ottawa Senators – Top 5 Prospects" by Shawn Reznick for The Hockey Writers.

The Ottawa Senators have seen better days. After making the playoffs for the previous two seasons they fell short this year with a 37-31-14 record. The offseason didn’t go nearly as well as they had hoped when they went into the 2014 NHL Draft without a 1st round pick. To add salt to the wound, their franchise center, Jason Spezza, along with Ales Hemsky, left as free agents to join the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference. The team will be looking to ease the pain a bit by turning to their young prospects who have been waiting patiently for their chance to prove themselves in the NHL. Here’s a look at the Senators’ top 5 prospects.

Read the full article here.

"Will Mikael Granlund’s Possession Numbers Improve?" by Dustin Nelson at Gone Puck Wild.

By the end of last season Mikael Granlund had started to deliver what Wild fans had hoped he would when he was drafted ninth overall in 2010. Over the summer some have even posited that Granlund should be the top line center and/or the center on first power play unit over captain Mikko Koivu.

Koivu is often a punching bag for the quick-to-judge, but his defenders — implacable, handsome, mustachioed, occasionally named Dustin — will point to his possession (not to mention overall defensive skills and face-off percentage) as a reason that he still is and should be the top line center. Koivu had the highest Corsi For % (CF%) on the team last season at 56.2% and was one of only four forwards on the team with a positive CF%. None of the other three were named Mikael Granlund.

Read the full article here.

"After trade talk, Hurricanes’ Ward looks to regain form" by Kurt Dusterberg for NHL.com.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward is not the player he once was. He knows it, and he’s not afraid to talk about it. Bluntly.

"I know I’ve been inconsistent," Ward said. "Inconsistency at the goaltending position is something you can’t afford. These last couple years, dealing with injuries and other issues …"

Ward rethinks his point and continues.

"But excuses are for losers, so those don’t do you any favors."

Read the full article here.

"Road Block: The Wild Need To Improve Away From Home" by DantheMan811 for Hockey Wilderness.

Are the Wild Stanley Cup Contenders?  Recent Bovada odds give the Wild a 16/1 shot at a Cup.  Not bad, but that still leaves seven arguably better teams ahead of them.  The Wild are an up and coming solid playoff team, but not yet a contender.  How can this change?  Step 1: Win on the road.

The best teams in this league find ways to play hard and win on the road.  At first glance, last year’s 17-17-7 road record may seem passable, but a closer look shows differently.  Bottom line, the Wild were terrible on the road last year.

Read the full article here.

"What Should The Minnesota Wild’s Top Pairing Be In 2014/15?" by Ger Devine for The Hockey Writers.

We’re still at the part of the offseason where it’s hard to make any assumptions about what the new season might bring because of all the upheaval of training camp and preseason but I think, barring anything catastrophic happening, one can assume that the Minnesota Wild’s top-4 defencemen will be Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin. Something to keep an eye on as we get closer to October is how Mike Yeo configures his top two pairings. Going into 2013/14 it was set in stone that Suter and Brodin would be paired together after playing so well in the previous campaign, but Brodin’s often poor play last season led to Yeo changing things up and moving Spurgeon into his place on the 1st pairing down the stretch and in the playoffs. Right now it’s unclear what pairings Yeo will go with come October. A lot could depend on training camp and preseason.

Read the full article here.

"Five Minnesota Wild Storylines To Follow In September" by Dustin Nelson for The Hockey Writers. 

The #IsItOctoberYet hashtags are starting to get annoying, which means we’re at the end of August and finally getting into some real hockey news. Prospect tournaments, training camp, and preseason games are on the horizon.

While that horizon approaches too slowly through the heat haze on the highway, we take a look at five Minnesota Wild storylines that are worth keeping an eye before the season opens next month.

Read the full article here.

"NHL 15 Trailer Mocks Female NHL Fans" by Christine Rousselle for The Pink Puck.

The NHL 15 trailer released on Monday showed off the incredible graphics and amazing amounts of arena detail poured in to this year’s edition of the game—and ended with a subtle dig at the NHL’s female fans.

Read the full article here.

(Don’t read the comments section… it always brings out the worst in people. I applaud those with the patience to talk sense there, but I just look at the guy who calls all women “shallow and self evolved” and want to respond “Idiot. In all ways.”)